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Gay Man to Direct
the Office of Personnel Management

Gay Man to Direct
the Office of Personnel Management

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John Berry is to be named director of the Office of Personnel Management by President-elect Barack Obama, making a gay man the president's top adviser on personnel matters for federal employees.

John Berry will be named director of the Office of Personnel Management by President-elect Barack Obama, according to TheWashington Post. Berry served as assistant secretary of the Interior during the Clinton administration and has been director of the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park since 2005.

LGBT leaders had hoped Berry would be tapped as secretary of the Interior, but D.C. insiders say his duties at the Office of Personnel Management will directly affect LGBT people because it has jurisdiction over the treatment of millions of federal employees.

"OPM is the federal government's human resources department," said Denis Dison, spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which has been presenting qualified LGBT candidates to the Obama transition team. "Its director is the president's top adviser on personnel matters. Having an out gay man in that position is more than symbolic, it's a statement about how important workplace equality is to this president."

The office is generally responsible for recruiting job applicants, filling vacancies at federal agencies, developing performance review processes, administering benefits, and overseeing nondiscrimination policies.

Though Beltway LGBT leaders had been pushing for an openly gay cabinet appointee, they were enthusiastic about Berry's appointment and said it was the most prominent position to be held by an openly gay person in the federal government. "The selection of John Berry to head the Office of Personnel Management, making him the highest-ranking openly gay official ever, is a meaningful step forward for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community," said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese.

Before becoming director of the National Zoological Park, Berry was executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Association from 2000 to 2005. He is also no stranger to Capitol Hill, having served as legislative director for Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, from 1985 until 1994. (Kerry Eleveld, Advocate.com)

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